Note: I suggest that if you haven’t yet read Miracle Of Faith – Part 1or 2, you start there. This way you’ll get the whole story.
So I admit it. As a composer I wrote a far too difficult song for our boy, the boy who offers his five loaves and two fishes to Jesus.
I don’t know what got into me. Perhaps it was the great length of the lyric that I started with, perhaps it was just the magical weaving of the story that swept me up. I knew going in that the lyric was long, and that it would just not be your normal 3-4 minute song. I knew that it had a very theatrical arc — think: the Soliloquy from Carousel. Perhaps the breadth of the material and the largess of this wondrous character caused me to simply write it as I heard it and not consider the age of the performer.
But when the song was finished, I knew I had to find somebody very special to sing it.
So I started looking for a boy whose voice had changed – perhaps 14 to a young 16 – someone who would sound younger on the recording.
In NYC if you want to find youth talent, you can spend a fortune with a casting director or you can network it through your theatrical friends and contacts and try to find the right person through the arts schools. I, wanting to save limited funds for the recording itself, of course, went with the latter.
After several days of calls we set up an audition to hear 5-7 highly recommended boys sing for us. My audition pianist who is the pianist at the Broadway show, Wicked — Paul Loesel — lives right down the hall from us and played the audition. The results of the audition were most disappointing. The boys were either too old and not good enough or simply not good enough to sing this most difficult song.
I began to consider re-writing the song that had taken a year and a half for Dora to write. Yikes! Not a good idea …
But then Paul, the pianist, seeing my disappointment said, “Hey, I worked with two very talented kids who are better than these guys about a year ago. Maybe you should see them.”
Desperate, I said, “Get me their names and email addresses and I’ll contact them.”
The first was a sweet kid and more the part, but again, just not good enough. The second, was a very young 12-year old boy named Noah Marlowe who was unfortunately away for a couple of months around the Christmas holidays playing a leading role in the national tour of the musical, Elf.
I spoke to his dad, a lovely man, who explained that Noah was away until mid January of 2014. I asked if Noah had any recordings I could hear. Dad’s answer was “No, but there is a YouTube video up of him singing a song as a special guest in a cabaret act.”
I’ve never done this before, but being desperate, I actually cast Noah from that YouTube Video. He was good, and I thought he might actually be able to pull it off. But I had never heard him live and that was scary.
So we took the next couple of months off and waited for Noah to get back home. We set up the first rehearsal with the stipulation that if it turned out that he couldn’t cut it, I would just pay him for the rehearsal and move on.